2010 Tour Bookings Showing Increase

A leading Bahamian tour operator yesterday said its 2010 forward bookings were already up 30 to 50 per cent year-over-year for the entire Bahamas, following what its managing director for Europe described as a 20 per cent decline last year.

Theres Saunders, of Majestic Tours, told Tribune Business that Condor airline's direct flights from Germany, which began late last year, had sparked a positive spike in arrivals from that part of Europe and generated requests for tour packages from other countries.

Majestic Tours' travel agency arm, Majestic Holidays, created a 14-day island hopping package for visitors from Germany, and have had requests for a similar package for Italian visitors.

According to Mrs Saunders, the company booked 2,000 less room nights last year than in 2008, when it did 14,000. However, she said numbers in the first three months of 2010 indicate a turnaround, and she is cautiously optimistic.

"Everybody was down because of the economy," she said.

Majestic Holidays' forward bookings for hotels across the Bahamas could be a positive indicator for stopover visits from Europe, and tangible evidence of the pay-off from increased airlift from that region. Last year, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation lobbied for more seats coming into Nassau, ailing Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Mrs Saunders said Majestic Holidays has pushed the Family Islands in Europe and Canada, and received a favourable response in terms of bookings. They have also been involved in a campaign in tandem with the Ministry of Tourism to boost domestic tourism, but that endeavour proved less successful. Despite the programme being ill-received by Bahamians, the campaign will continue later this year.

"Everybody seems to be a bit more confident," she said.

Source: The Tribune